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					      E    very website owner wants their website to perform well, whether that
           means getting more sales, sign­ups or RSS subscribers. The question
      is, how do you convert a new visitor into a loyal customer? This chapter
                                                                                        16 gigabytes of space tells me a lot about its technical specifications and
                                                                                        little about its benefits; but saying that it holds 4,000 songs clearly high­
                                                                                        lights the benefit that storage capacity gives me. This in turn solves my
      looks at the theory of how to sell effectively and lists practical techniques     need to carry my entire music library in my pocket.
      to help you boost conversion rates.
                                                                                        Once you know what you’re selling (that is, your product’s solutions and
      Most websites are not works of art or things made to be appreciated solely        benefits) you need to break down the barriers that customers will put up
      for their beauty or expression. Websites are functional interfaces that serve     when evaluating how valuable your product is to them. These barriers are
      a specific purpose. If you run an online store, the purpose of your website       their reasons why they shouldn’t
                                                                                                                                  You need to break down the bar­
      is to sell goods. If you run a Web application, your website is there to get      buy your product. These barriers
                                                                                                                                  riers that customers will put up
      people to sign up. Whatever industry you operate in and whatever type of          will range from the really strong
                                                                                                                                  when evaluating how valuable
      business, organization or community you run, you want your website to             (they may simply hate your prod­
                                                                                                                                  your product is to them.
      perform by getting those sales, sign­ups, subscribers or clicks.                  uct or don’t have nearly the bud­
                                                                                        get to buy it) to the weak (maybe they don’t see the feature they need or
      “Conversion” is an online marketing term that describes an instance of a
                                                                                        think it’s expensive or don’t like the color).
      visitor to your website performing an action that you deem to be desir­
      able. For example, if you run                                                     These barriers can be tackled directly and hopefully broken down. For ex­
                                             Most website owners want a high con­
      an online store, one likely con­                                                  ample, if the product seems expensive to potential customers, highlight
                                             version rate. The question is, how do
      version would be the sale of a                                                    the value it will give them by pointing out the amount of money, time or
                                             you turn a new visitor of your website
      product; in the case of a blog,                                                   stress they’ll save by using it.
                                             into a loyal customer?
      a conversion might a subscrip­
                                                                                        Lack of features can often be tackled by talking about simple workarounds;
      tion to your RSS feed. Conversions are tracked using a conversion rate: the
                                                                                        after all, your customers are looking not for features but for solutions to
      ratio of all visitors to your website to the number of visitors who perform
                                                                                        their problems, and so if you can tell them how they can solve their prob­
      the desired action.
                                                                                        lem using your product (perhaps by using different features than the ones
      Most website owners want a high conversion rate. The question is, how             they had in mind), you can break down those barriers.
      do you turn a new visitor of your website into a loyal customer? To answer
      this, let’s look at what it takes to sell effectively.
                                                                                        AIDA
                                                                                        One very popular approach to sales is called AIDA, which stands for
      What Sells?
                                                                                        “Attention, Interest, Desire, Action”. AIDA is a guide to structuring your
      To sell effectively, you have to sell solutions, not products. You also have      sales pitch. In any sales pitch, the goal is to close the sale, and your ap­
      to sell benefits, not features. Your customers aren’t looking for products,       proach should maximize the effectiveness of the pitch so that when you
      services or features: they’re looking for solutions to their specific problems.   get to the end, the prospective buyer wants the product enough to say
      Features are just the things that make up your product or service, but            “Yes”. Just like with a standard sales pitch, AIDA can be used in a conver­
      benefits are what people get from using your product; they are the rea­           sion funnel on the Web, where the website, instead of the salesperson,
      son for choosing your product. For example, saying that the iPod Nano has         plays the key role in selling.




212   Design to Sell: Increasing Conversion Rates                                                                                 Design to Sell: Increasing Conversion Rates   213
      The first stage in the AIDA pitch is “Attention”. This is especially im­                        solution will clearly improve the lives of your visitors. Make it concise and
      portant for websites because of the speed with which potential cus­                             punchy, and make it clear why your visitors should care.
      tomers could navigate away from your website. You have just a
                                                                                                      The next two stages, “Interest” and “Desire”, are the part that sells the
      brief moment to grab their attention, and you have to keep it long
                                                                                                      product. If you’ve made a claim in the “Attention” stage, now is the time to
      enough to close the sale. That first moment is absolutely critical
                                                                                                      back it up. Clearly and concisely explain what your product does and how
      because the rest of the pitch will be useless if your potential cus­
                                                                                                      it will give your visitors real value. Create desire by talking about the ben­
      tomer leaves now. Grab attention by making a strong claim that your
                                                                                                      efits your product will bring to customers. If you can paint a vivid picture
                                                                                                      so that visitors can imagine using your product and enjoying its benefits,
                                                                                                      their desire for your product will grow.

                                                                                                      The final step is a call to “Action”. If you’re selling a tangible product, in­
                                                                                                      vite the customer to buy it and tell them how they can pay for it. If the
                                                                                                      product is a Web app or service, invite the visitor to sign up. At this stage,
                                                                                                      you have to close the sale, so the call to action is absolutely vital. People
                                                                                                      who are willing to buy just need that last bit of direction on how to pay or
                                                                                                      sign up, and people who are sitting on the fence need that last little push.

                                                                                                                                            Recently, the letter “S”, which stands
                                                                                                                                            for “Satisfaction”, was added to AIDA,
                                                                                                                                            forming AIDAS. Getting customers is
                                                                                                                                            great, but getting those customers
                                                                                                                                            to return or tell their friends about
                                                                                                                                            your product is even better. You do
                                                                                                       The AIDA sales funnel.               this by making sure they are satis­
                                                                                                      fied with the service. It doesn’t mean your service or product needs to be
                                                                                                      perfect; it does mean you should provide great customer service. Solv­
                                                                                                      ing customer service problems is a great way to build loyal customers be­
                                                                                                      cause it shows that your company can be relied on even when things don’t
                                                                                                      go as planned.


                                                                                                      Show The Product
                                                                                                      If you were shopping at a real bricks­and­mortar store, you would be able
      The Highrise website from 37signals uses the AIDA approach to maximize conversions. First,
      they grab your attention with a very concise product summary and benefit claim: “The            not only to see the products but to touch and try them. Seeing an actual
      smarter way to keep track of the people you do business with”. Interest is built with a list    product before buying it gives you a lot more information about it. You
      of benefits. Videos of clients talking about how Highrise helps them run their business help
      generate desire. Finally, a large call­to­action button invites you to see the pricing plans.   get a good feel for what you’re purchasing.




214   Design to Sell: Increasing Conversion Rates                                                                                                Design to Sell: Increasing Conversion Rates   215
      When shopping online, however, we’re limited by the amount and kind of                               A great way to use video to show off your product is by embedding it in a
      information we can get, and so it’s surprising that some websites don’t                              prominent position on your landing page. It may be helpful to prepare a
      even show what their products look like.                                                             script beforehand and then narrate over top of your previously recorded
                                                                                                           session to ensure that the audio is clear and without mistakes. Keep the
      Even if you sell digital goods, such as desktop or Web applications, show­
                                                                                                           script brief and to the point.
      ing screenshots – or, even better, videos – is essential. When people see
      what a product looks like, they can begin to imagine using that product.                             The AIDA structure may come in handy here, because you would first talk
      This is important. If you can get your potential customer to imagine using                           about what problem your product solves, how your product solves it and
      your product, you will begin to create in them a desire to own it. What’s                            what benefits one gets from using your product, and then you would in­
      more, good­looking interfaces aren’t simply attractive, they are perceived                           vite the viewer to sign up or continue browsing the website to learn more.
      as being more usable 1 .

                                                                                                           Scannable Feature Lists
                                                                                                           If you’re selling a product or service, you probably have a list of features
                                                                                                           to advertise. You want to get people to read and digest this list. The prob­
                                                                                                           lem is, lists are boring, and they’re especially boring when they have a lot
                                                                                                           of text. People browsing your website certainly won’t put much effort into
                                                                                                           reading your ads – they’re there to browse, not work – so it’s up to you to
                                                                                                           make the list as easy to process as possible. Thankfully, there are a few easy
                                                                                                           things you can do to make that happen.



      Apple displays large screenshots of Numbers, its spreadsheet application, right at the top of
      the page.




      Use Video To Showcase The Product
      Video is becoming a very popular medium to showcase products online,
      especially digital goods like desktop and Web applications. This is because
      you can usually show a lot more in a video in a shorter period of time than
      you can with screenshots and text. Video also takes less effort to digest
      because all you have to do is watch and listen.


      1 “Apparent Usability vs. Inherent Usability: Experimental Analysis on the Determinants of the
         Apparent Usability”, by Masaaki Kurosu and Kaori Kashimura, CHI ’95 Conference Companion, 1995,   GoodBarry opens its landing page with a large embedded screencast video. The large play
         p. 292 – 293                                                                                      button and call to action (“watch the video”) invite visitors to click on it.




216   Design to Sell: Increasing Conversion Rates                                                                                                           Design to Sell: Increasing Conversion Rates   217
      First of all, use icons or images. Icons beside feature descriptions in lists
      work like bullet points: they’re little anchors on the page on which our eyes
      can easily focus. Icons and images also look more interesting than text and
      so will more likely attract the eye than words.

      Secondly, use short headings for each feature. These should be only a few
      words so that they’re as quick to process as the icons. Their contrast with
      the background should be stronger and their font larger than those of the
      description – again, to grab attention. Provide a more detailed descrip­
      tion underneath each heading, set in a smaller font and with lighter con­




                                                                                                    SEOmoz provides commercial tools for SEO professionals, but it also gives out a lot of
                                                                                                    smaller tools for free. This is a great way to attract traffic and capitalize on the recipro cation
                                                                                                    phenomenon.



      Highrise makes the feature list on its website scannable by using icons, contrast and white   stranger made people twice as likely to buy raffle tickets from them. People
      space. Also, note the benefits stated in each heading
                                                                                                    were more inclined to fill out a survey if they were given a $5 gift check right
                                                                                                    away than if they were promised a $50 reward upon completion. Giving
      trast. This element must blend in; if the reader likes the heading, they’ll                   sweets with bills at restaurants increased the value of tips.
      read the blurb, but the description shouldn’t get in the way of scanning
                                                                                                    So, what can you give away for free on your site that will make people want
      the whole list. Lastly, make the list easy to scan by putting plenty of white
                                                                                                    to reciprocate? If you sell software, how about giving away a 30­day trial?
      space between each item.
                                                                                                    Maybe release a portion of your product completely free of charge through
                                                                                                    what’s called a “freemium” model, in which customers can use a basic version
      Gifts Make You Want To Reciprocate                                                            of your product for free but have to pay for additional features? Some web­
                                                                                                    site owners build small tools and release them free of charge to all visitors; for
      Another great sales technique to bring you closer to a sale or conversion is
                                                                                                    example, 37signals offers a couple of small applications called Tadalist and
      to give something for nothing. When you receive a gift, you feel a need to
                                                                                                    Writeboard, which complement its commercial offerings, free of charge.
      reciprocate, to give something back. Robert Cialdini, author of one of the
                                                                                                    Giving those applications away for free makes people more likely to try out
      greatest books about influence, “Influence: Science and Practice 2”,shares a
                                                                                                    and buy its other offerings.
      few examples of how gifts can help you sell. Receiving a small gift from a
      2 Cialdini, R., Influence: Science and Practice, 5th ed., (Allyn & Bacon 2008).




218   Design to Sell: Increasing Conversion Rates                                                                                                          Design to Sell: Increasing Conversion Rates    219
      Social Proof                                                                          You can use this idea when designing your website. Don’t simply choose
                                                                                            images for their decorative value; instead, think about what emotions you
      Social proof is a psychological phenomenon that occurs when people aren’t
                                                                                            want your visitors to experience. What message do you want your images
      sure about the course of action they should take and so do what every­
                                                                                            to communicate? Select images that have meaning and will help put your
      one else does. For example, an experiment was conducted in which sev­
                                                                                            visitors in the right frame of mind about your product.
      eral people would look up at the sky. Many bystanders noticed this and
      would also look up to see what the others were looking at. Indeed, it was
      so effective that the experiment had to be aborted at one point when it               Always Provide Next Actions
      began to impede traffic.
                                                                                            When should you close a sale? Simple: ABC. “Always be closing”. You will
      People feel safer and more reassured following others. If they see others             convert visitors into customers at different stages in the process and at
      buying a product, they feel safer purchasing it because they know it’s pop­           different speeds, so by delaying closing the sale, you risk dragging those
      ular. It must be pretty good, right? We can use social proof to help boost            people who have already made up their mind through more marketing,
      conversions for popular products and services by advertising that they’re             when all they really want to do is sign up. Provide easy access to that pur­
      popular or that others have approved of them. For example, user reviews               chase, sign­up or subscription link on every page of your website, and per­
      are a great way to recommend products. Amazon does something similar                  haps in multiple places. Of course, don’t flood the page with calls to ac­
      with its “Customers who bought this item also bought these” section,                  tion; just provide enough closure opportunities to make it easy for people
      which recommends items based on other people’s purchasing behavior.                   who have made up their mind and want to sign up to do so.




      Amazon recommends products that buyers of the same product also bought. Amazon also
      lets customers review products, making good use of the social proof phenomenon.



      Subliminal Suggestion
      Images and objects also play a part in influencing behavior. A study found
      that showing children a Santa Claus hat increased the likelihood that they
      would share candy with other children. Exposing kids to the Toys ’R’ Us
      logo yielded the opposite effect, making sharing less likely. This is because
      people make associations with certain images and objects, and by expos­
      ing people to carefully selected visuals, you can condition them to per­
      form the behavior you want.                                                           Legacy Locker display a photo of a happy family next to its introduction to elicit a desire in
                                                                                            visitors to care for and protect their loved ones.




220   Design to Sell: Increasing Conversion Rates                                                                                                Design to Sell: Increasing Conversion Rates   221
      You should also aim to keep the process flowing. This means leaving no                       the item is sold out, purchasing it becomes much more difficult, and so
      dead ends. For example, when the visitor gets to the bottom of a mar­                        its value grows. Google generated a lot of buzz through scarcity when it
      keting blurb or description, where do they go next? Provide links to next                    first launched Gmail, its Web­based email application. It did this by limit­
      actions right at the bottom of each section and sub­section. Make it easy                    ing access to the beta: you could only get it if you were invited by some­
      for visitors to browse by directing them through the sales funnel rather                     one who already had an account. Getting a Gmail account was a privilege,
      than leaving them to figure out where they should go. This can be done                       then, and people in turn wanted it more than they would have if it was
      by putting links with labels such as “Learn more” at the bottom of brief                     completely open to new sign­ups.
      descriptions and adding call­to­action buttons like “Buy now” or “Take
                                                                                                   Scarcity also makes people think that if they delay, they might miss their
      the tour” right under your main copy. Make sure the visitor always knows
                                                                                                   chance to get the product, and so they will act quickly. Advertising limited­
      where to go next, so that when they finish reading a section, a link is wait­
                                                                                                   time offers and limited stocks are great ways to push people who are sit­
      ing to direct them to the next stage in the process.
                                                                                                   ting on the fence into making the purchase or signing up.

      Use Scarcity To Drive Demand
                                                                                                   Money-Back Guarantee To Eliminate Risk
      When a limited amount of goods is available and those goods have value,
                                                                                                   Risk is one of the biggest barriers to conversions. Can people trust your
      getting ahold of one give its owner a certain privilege. This is because once
                                                                                                   company? What if your product doesn’t do what they want? What if
                                                                                                   they discover something better? Risk sows seeds of doubt in the minds
                                                                                                   of visitors. They’re not sure whether to buy your product or sign up for
                                                                                                   your service because there are too many unknowns. Thankfully, we have
                                                                                                   a good deal of control over risk, and the best way to tackle risk is to offer
                                                                                                   a money­back guarantee.




                                                                                                   Instead of displaying the standard “In stock” label, Overclockers shows the exact number
      Skype leaves no dead ends. Notice how under each little feature description is one or more   of goods in stock when the level is low. This pushes people who want the item to make the
      next­action links, like “Learn more” or “See it in action”.                                  purchase quickly, because if they don’t do it now, they might be too late.




222   Design to Sell: Increasing Conversion Rates                                                                                                    Design to Sell: Increasing Conversion Rates   223
      Money­back guarantees mean just that: if the customer isn’t happy, they                    put their own data into it if it’s a software application. Essentially, they
      send the product back and get their money refunded, usually in a limited                   become much more involved with the product, and so the chance that
      timeframe, such as 30 days. Money­back guarantees shouldn’t scare you,                     they buy it grows dramatically.
      because if your product is good, you will likely see few returns. Money­
                                                                                                 If you sell a digital product, such as a desktop or Web application, why not
      back guarantees may even be cheaper for your business, because if you
                                                                                                 let people try it? Many applications offer online demos in which people
      don’t offer one and a customer really wants their money back, they can get
                                                                                                 can log in and play around without any commitment. Many also use the
      their bank to refund their money, and then you’ll get a chargeback, which
                                                                                                 freemium model, in which people can use a basic version of the pro duct
      means you’ll pay an additional fee on top of the money you refund. Offer­
                                                                                                 free of charge but have to pay for extra features. This is great because
      ing a money­back guarantee means no chargeback fees, more customers
                                                                                                 users start to do two things: they learn how the product works, and they
      (because of the lower risk) and higher trust in your business.
                                                                                                 save their data in it. Premium users invest their time in your product, so
                                                                                                 they’re inclined to stick with it when they need more features, making
      Let People Try It                                                                          a premium upgrade likely. Another way to let people try your product is
                                                                                                 through a limited­time trial.
      One of the best ways to sell your product is to get people to try it out.
      When people try a product, they are doing more than just looking at it
      or considering it: they are actually using it, which means they are getting
      involved. They start to experience it, learn how it works and maybe even




                                                                                                 Pixlr, a Web­based image editing application, gives you a demo link right on the landing
                                                                                                 page. Clicking on it lets you instantly try out the product without having to sign up or
                                                                                                 divulge any personal information.



                                                                                                 Don’t Push Customers Away With Shipping Costs
                                                                                                 A study by ForeSee Results3 , analyzing 10,500 transactions in 30 online
                                                                                                 stores, discovered that the deciding factor that closed the deal for 34% of
                                                                                                 users was that the stores didn’t charge shipping costs. People like to know
      Sitepoint offers a 30­day money­back guarantee for its books, which means customers face
      very little risk: if they’re not happy with the product, they can get their money back.    3 http://www.foreseeresults.com/Thank_Top100_May08.html




224   Design to Sell: Increasing Conversion Rates                                                                                                   Design to Sell: Increasing Conversion Rates   225
      that the price they see in their shopping cart is the same amount they’ll get                 be charged: it should be clear. A good way to do this is to update the total
      charged on their credit cards. The last thing they want to see is additional                  cost on the check­out page when the user selects a shipping method, so
      costs at the end of the check­out process.                                                    that the total reflects the full price. You should also make the options clear
                                                                                                    and easy to select, because you don’t want to slow down customers in the
      Offering free delivery would surely boost sales, but it may not be a viable
                                                                                                    check­out process.
      option for every store. If you do charge a shipping cost, be transparent
      about it and offer clear and simple shipping options. At this stage, you
      don’t want to confuse potential customers about how much money they’ll                        Eliminate Choice Paralysis
                                                                                                    There is a concept in marketing called choice paralysis. It describes the state
                                                                                                    of consumers when presented with too many choices of the same type and
                                                                                                    few differentiating factors. For example, when you go to the supermar­
                                                                                                    ket and look at the shelves of pasta, you will probably see a lot of brands,
                                                                                                    each offering different pasta shapes in different packages. Which do you
                                                                                                    pick? Which is better? Which one do you like best? When the choices are
                                                                                                    too many, you become paralyzed: you don’t know which product to pick.
                                                                                                    Choice paralysis doesn’t just delay purchases; it can also cause buyer’s
                                                                                                    remorse. More choice means more stuff to look through and more reasons
                                                                                                    to regret not buying something else if they end up disliking your product.
                                                                                                    To help combat choice paralysis, keep your product selection small and well
                                                                                                    differentiated. If you still offer too many choices and can’t reduce them
                                                                                                    any further, recommend one of them to your visitors, such as your most
                                                                                                    popular product or service plan.




      Shipping option hell at Badgepoint. Don’t force your users to analyze large cryptic spread­
      sheets. Offer simple and clear shipping solutions instead.                                    Highrise effectively uses visuals to make the service plan it recommends stand out.




226   Design to Sell: Increasing Conversion Rates                                                                                                      Design to Sell: Increasing Conversion Rates   227
      Use visuals to highlight that choice and make it stand out from the rest.                                                                                We can use this
      People who are unsure about what they want will have an easier time and                                                                                  idea in Web design
      feel safer going with what’s recommended, and those who are sure can                                                                                     by placing key in­
      easily pick any other product that suits their needs.                                                                                                    formation in the
                                                                                                                                                               top­left area and
                                                                                                                                                               positioning a call­
      The Gutenberg Rule
                                                                                                                                                               to­action button or
      The Gutenberg diagram (or Gutenberg rule) is a map of something called                                                                                   link in the bottom­
      “reading gravity”. Reading gravity is the path our eyes tend to follow when                                                                              right terminal area,
      we read a page of text, which in the Western world is left to right and top                                                                              where a casual vis­
      to bottom.                                                                                     The Gutenberg diagram.                                    itor will likely end
                                                                                                                                                               up looking after a
      The Gutenberg diagram is split into four areas:
                                                                                                                                                               quick glance at the
         •	 the Primary Optical area in the top­left                                                 page. Note that the Gutenberg principle works best on pages with a bal­
         •	 the Strong Fallow area in the top­right                                                  anced distribution of content. So, if certain elements on your page have
         •	 the Weak Fallow area in the bottom­left                                                  strong contrast and eye­catching colors, they will likely attract the visitor’s
         •	 the Terminal area in the bottom­right.                                                   gaze, even if they lie in weaker areas.

      The Gutenberg rule tells us that the reader will most likely start looking
      at the top­left corner of the page and end up in the bottom­right. It also                     Footnotes
      tells us that the bottom­left area gets the least attention.
                                                                                                     Sometimes you need to mention detailed technical specifications or per­
                                                                                                     haps special requirements (for example, the minimum requirements to
                                                                                                     run a piece of software). You could mention these things in the market­
                                                                                                     ing copy, but that would probably break the flow. These details usually do
                                                                                                     not help sell your product, because they are simply extra information and
                                                                                                     not content that highlights benefits. You can improve your copy by mov­
                                                                                                     ing this information to footnotes.

                                                                                                     Your copy will be slimmer and more focused on conversions, while the
                                                                                                     footnotes with extra information will be available if and when the reader
                                                                                                     needs them. Make sure to use footnotes for good and not evil, though.
                                                                                                     Don’t state something in the main copy and then contradict it in a foot­
                                                                                                     note: for example, saying that a product or deal is free when it really isn’t.
                                                                                                     Not everyone reads footnotes, so being honest about what you offer is
                                                                                                     best. Make sure you don’t deceive visitors or give them inaccurate expec­
      BusinessCatalyst uses the Gutenberg principle to lay out the introductory text and call to
      action, “Watch the video”, on its landing page. An arrow helps guide visitors to the button.   tations; that ultimately leads to dissatisfied customers.




228   Design to Sell: Increasing Conversion Rates                                                                                               Design to Sell: Increasing Conversion Rates   229
                                                                                                  and face a list of things to change or fill in. Save users that trip by validating
                                                                                                  each field with AJAX as they fill it out. Place error messages right beside
                                                                                                  their respective fields. That way, if the users make a mistake, they can fix
                                                                                                  it before submitting the form.


      This footnote on Apple’s website explains storage capacities.                               Conclusion
                                                                                                  We’ve looked at the theory of selling effectively: selling solutions instead
      Make It Easy To Sign Up                                                                     of products, and selling benefits instead of features. We’ve looked at how
                                                                                                  the popular AIDA sales pitch structure can be adapted to the Web. We’ve
      Sign­up forms are barriers. Nobody likes filling them out because they take
                                                                                                  also looked at practical techniques for boosting the conversion rate of
      time and effort. The sign­up form is probably the last stage in your conver­
                                                                                                  your website.
      sion funnel, so make sure you lose as few people as possible by making the
      form short and simple. Don’t ask for optional information; it can always                    Most websites are not art. They’re not built to be appreciated simply for
      be filled in later. Keep the form slim to make it quick and painless to fill                their design. Instead, they are meant to perform a specific task, such as sell
      in. It’s also helpful to remove additional navigation and content elements                  a product or present blog articles to readers. The design of your website
      from the sign­up page and leave just the form and a link back to the home                   should work towards achieving its goal. The look and feel of the website
      page. This way, there is little to distract the user from filling out the form.             is, of course, important – they determine first impressions and build your
                                                                                                  brand – but it’s also important not to get sidetracked by implementing
      With many online forms, the user realizes they have made a mistake only
                                                                                                  design elements for their own sake.
      after they have submitted the form. They wind up back on the same page
                                                                                                  Think about the purpose that a particular photo serves on your website.
                                                                                                  Consider whether certain embellishments could help your website perform
                                                                                                  its function better. Web design isn’t all about function – an attractive and
                                                                                                  stylish website is great – but great aesthetics alone doesn’t make a web­
                                                                                                  site perform; for that, you need to ensure that your design decisions and
                                                                                                  strategy are driven by the goals and purpose of the website.


                                                                                                  The Importance Of Testing
                                                                                                  Every website is different and serves a unique audience, so it’s always
                                                                                                  best to fine­tune your strategy and tactics. Techniques that work well for
                                                                                                  one website may not work for another. How do you figure out what works
                                                                                                  best for you? You test. There are a couple of popular testing methodologies
                                                                                                  that will help you fine­tune your website: A/B testing (also known as split
      Posterous has a unique process: you don’t even have to sign up. All you do to start a new   testing), and its more advanced sibling, multivariate testing.
      blog is send an email with your first post.




230   Design to Sell: Increasing Conversion Rates                                                                                              Design to Sell: Increasing Conversion Rates   231
      A/B testing is the process of testing two variations of a page or items on a     what works and doesn’t work and making adjustments. The Web isn’t a
      page against each other. For example, you might want to try two different        fixed medium like paper, where changes are impossible. Your website is
      calls to action to see which one works best. Each visitor gets a randomly        not in a finished state; it can evolve and adapt. So, to boost your conver­
      chosen call to action, and your conversion goal for that visitor (e.g. whether   sion rates, you should test and optimize.                                n

      they sign up) is tracked. After enough data is collected, the results show
      which call to action performed best.

      Multivariate testing uses the same principle but allows for more variables
      to be tested at the same time. For example, you might want to test dif­
      ferent versions of your website header, slogan, call to action or marketing
      blurb. Multivariate testing serves visitors random selections of each test
      item and tracks how well each combination of items performs.

      While multivariate testing may sound fairly complex, there are tools avail­
      able that make it really easy to do. One of the more popular tools is Google’s
      Website Optimizer, which lets you perform A/B and multivariate testing
      on your websites. Best of all, the Website Optimizer is free, which means
      anyone can take advantage of these two optimization methods.

      Knowing the theory and best practices is only one aspect of developing
      great websites that perform well. The second part is testing: discovering




      Google’s Website Optimizer.




232   Design to Sell: Increasing Conversion Rates                                                                               Design to Sell: Increasing Conversion Rates   233

				
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